Trade unions in the health sector will seek legal recourse following the fire that has left the Bank of Lisbon building in downtown Johannesburg gutted. The fire broke out on the 23rd floor on Wednesday, and left three firefighters dead.
The building, which housed three Gauteng departments, is one of seven government buildings in the city centre that don’t comply with health and safety standards.
Unions say they’ve been raising their concerns for years about the unsafe condition of the building.
“The death of the three comrades and workers cannot actually just be regarded as an accident. And we have decided to seek legal recourse in terms of ensuring that those that are responsible must be held accountable. Heads must roll – so this matter around the death of the three workers should be investigated to the letter,” said Nehawu’s provincial Deputy Secretary, Gracia Rikhotso.
Meanwhile, Health sector unions have advised workers to stay home until plans have been made to facilitate office relocations.
Following a meeting with unions on Friday, workers have been granted compassionate leave and offered trauma counselling.
“We would like to reassure all workers affected by this tragedy that as unions we are on track to try and address the issue, and we want them to remain calm and at home, as we have engaged the employer on Friday to give them compassionate leave and trauma counselling – to which the employer has agreed. Those workers that are phoned by managers to report for duty in other departments, we want to also advise them – we would want, as organised labour, to be part of that process to relocate those workers,” said Denosa provincial spokesperson, Simphiwe Gada.
On Wednesday, Johannesburg Emergency Services will host a memorial service for the three firefighters. Mduduzi Ndlovu, Simphiwe Moropane and Meshack Muedi will be laid to rest between Friday and Sunday next weekend – in three different provinces.
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